Baby killing ‘could not have been predicted or prevented’

A REVIEW into the killing of a baby girl, stabbed to death by her mum four days shy of her first birthday, has concluded the tragedy could not have been “predicted or prevented”.

The Serious Case review, published yesterday by Monmouthshire’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), said there was “never evidence” to indicate or imply that Harley Ruck was at risk of harm.

It also said there were no recommendations to make to the agencies involved in child protection arising from the report.

Harley was found stabbed to death after a frenzied attack in a flat in St David’s Close, Abergavenny, in the early hours of November 20 last year.

Her 23-year-old mother Jade Ruck – who was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia – admitted killing her daughter in the frenzied attack after the break down of her relationship with Harley’s father, Dorian Twist.

The single mother’s 999 call, which was read out in court, recounted the harrowing aftermath of the incident, when she said: “I’ve got an 11-month-old baby and I’ve literally stabbed her.

“I couldn’t handle my life any more … I’ve stabbed her with a kitchen knife … she took ages to go as well.”

She was given an indefinite hospital order after pleading guilty to manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, after the case at Swansea Crown Court in July.

The LSCB report – which has to be undertaken whenever a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is suspected – reported police officers had met Ruck just hours before the incident.

Gwent Police had been called to the house hours before the baby’s death after someone phoned concerned after Ruck had said she “felt like dying” – but they left after being satisfied that no further action was required and made a referral to social services.

The report said their actions were “appropriate”, adding that there was no evidence to suggest they should have been concerned for Harley’s immediate welfare.

It also said Ruck had come to the attention of police and social services on two occasions, but “neither event raised concerns about the parenting provided” to Harley, and that while the injuries that led to her death were non-accidental, “no prior child protection issues or historical concerns” had been raised about her care.

The report – which was not published in full and referred to Harley as Child A throughout – said that it made no recommendations, but noted that some “areas of practice learning” had come out in the process, but none had a bearing on Harley’s death.

It concluded: “There were no predictive factors known to statutory agencies that suggested that Child A was at risk of harm from her mother.

“[The] mother was like many young people who had struggled in adolescence and found themselves managing the responsibilities of parenthood at an early age.

“Agencies appropriately shared information when there was a need to do so and there was good inter-agency working by professionals involved with the family, which did not indicate Child A as being in need of protection.”

Organisations involved had produced action plans to address issues raised, which will be monitored by the board for implementation.

Simon Burch, chairman of the Safeguarding Board, said: “This has been a tragic case and our thoughts are with the family and the rest of the local community at this difficult time.

“The independent report is clear that these events could not have been predicted or prevented by any of the services involved.

“Nonetheless, as chair of the LSCB, my focus has been on ensuring that any lessons, however small, are learnt and that the family’s voice has been heard during the review.

“We published the report as soon as possible after the end of the court case so that the family can begin to move on.”